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Time for a Refresh?

By Kate Marsden & Jehane Boden Spiers

If you’re a reader of my blog, or you follow me on social media, you’ll know that 2017 was a tough year for me and my business. As I speak to more and more people I realise I was far from the only one, however during a particularly precarious wobble back in the summer, Sarah Hamilton put me in touch with the rather marvellous Jehane Boden Spiers.

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I already knew Jehane of course as I’d been following her on social media for some time. Jehane is a multi-talented Designer, Art Licencing Agent, Consultant and Mentor with 25 years of experience (and didn’t take a 15+ year break in this to do something completely different as I did!). Jehane had recently launched portfolio reviews a part of her offering, and I knew mine was in desperate need of an overhaul.

So on a blustery day in late September we met in the street food hub that is Croydon’s Boxpark to talk shop and go through my work. I’ll have to admit that I was a little nervous. I’m my work’s harshest critic (I think!) but I was worried about someone else telling me it was all rubbish, and to give up and go back to an office job. I was half expecting a “well you’re having a terrible year sales wise because your work is terrible!” (which of course she was NEVER going to say!).

Of course Jehane put me at ease immediately, and we actually chatted for ages before I even got my work out onto the table. I came away with pages and pages of notes, to do lists, reassurances and plenty of confirmations that what I’d been thinking was right (I just had to do something about it!). One thing has led to another over the 4 months since we met, and I’m really starting to see evidence of some of the changes I decided to make.

I’ll now hand you over to Jehane, to tell you a little more about what she does, and why a portfolio review can be the perfect refresh or kickstart when things are getting a bit stale…

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Thanks for the great introduction Kate!

I have long been inspired by colour and conversations, by the variety of creative processes, motivations, and varying responses to images.

I have always been involved in the visual world. Initially working as a textile designer in Vienna, I licensed my first design to Gallery Five whilst still a student at Winchester School of Art in 1992. My original artworks & embroideries have sold all over the world including to Liberty of London, English Heritage, RSC, and the Sydney Opera House.

I was one of the first designers to incorporate text and documents into decorative work, something which is now commonplace. My designs have been licensed to Sanderson, Boots, Stewo, and John Lewis including over 100 designs commissioned for a best-selling greetings-card range - “Muse” for The Paper House Group.


I have given talks about my own artwork at the V&A and have written a chapter on licensing your designs for Sarah Hamilton’s book “House of Cards”, a well-known artist and, of course, founder of Just A Card.

These experiences have naturally extended to my role as an Artists’ Agent and to more recently offering portfolio reviews for artists.

As part of my new company and artists’ agent, Jehane Ltd, I aim to offer solid, specific and practical advice with a strong aesthetic analysis. Giving guidance as to where an artists’ work might be best placed commercially; whether this be focusing on selling hand-made/self-published products, on licensing your designs; or on having a ‘portfolio’ approach which combines more than one of these areas. 

In a typical portfolio review, we will look at and review sketchbooks, black and white line-work, consider colours, design repeats, mocking up images as products and look at final artwork. We will also look at your branding and promotional material.

Even an established artist can benefit from a review - we never stop learning and all need a kick-start sometimes. A fresh eye on your artwork not only identifies strengths & weaknesses but ideally also explores your personal intent in more depth.


Identifying what really makes us tick and where we want to get to is highly valuable – in supporting decision making, how we move forward visually, and how to promote more effectively.

I also offer a range of other consultancy sessions including key takeaways such as my “Introduction to Art Licensing” and “Step-by-step guide to Licensing”. These are ideal for designers wanting to gain confidence in representing themselves and licensing directly to clients.

“If you would like support & guidance to consider your direction or would like an experienced eye to review your portfolio, I would love to help you”.

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Thank you so much Jehane!

Check back next month to find out more about what I’ve actually done since our meeting in September (and for Jehane’s take on the changes I’ve made – so more vulnerability for me – eek!). If you feel that you could do with a little guidance, you can get in touch with Jehane via her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
















Kate MarsdenComment